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RURAL TELEPHONE SUPPLEMENTAL FINANCING
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1969
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11 a.m., in room 1301, Longworth House Office Building, the Honorable W. R. Poage (chairman) presiding
Present: Representatives Poage, Abernethy, Abbitt, Stubblefield, Purcell, de la Garza, Vigorito, Jones of North Carolina, Montgomery, Burlison of Missouri, Rarick, Teague of California, Zwach, and Sebelius.
Also present : Christine S. Gallagher, clerk; William C. Black, general counsel; and John Knebel, assistant counsel.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please come to order.
Most of the members on both sides are attending one or the other of the caucuses which are taking place at this time, but we have postponed this meeting an hour in deference to the caucuses and I thought it well to proceed. The committee, therefore, will take up for consideration H.R. 7 and related bills, such as H.R. 4020 by Mr. Kleppe, H.R. 4192 by Mr. O'Konski, and H.R. 81 by Mr. Anderson, all of which provide supplemental financing for the rural telephone program.
(H.R. 7, by Mr. Poage, the text of which follows, is similar to H.R. 81 by Mr. Anderson of Tennessee, H.R. 4020 by Mr. Kleppe, H.R. 4192 by Mr. OʻKonski, and H.R. 7872 by Mr. Hathaway.)
[H.R. 7, 91st Cong., first sess.] A BILL To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended, to provide an additional source of financing for the rural telephone program, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress that the growing capital needs of the rural telephone systems require the establishment of a rural telephone bank which will furnish assured and viable sources of supplementary financing with the objective that said bank will become an entirely privately owned, operated, and financed corporation. The Congress further finds that many rural telephone systems require financing under the terms and conditions provided in title II of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended. In order to effectuate this policy, the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 921-924), is amended as hereinafter provided.
SEC. 2. The Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended, is amended by adding the following two new titles :
"TITLE III “SEC. 301. RURAL TELEPHONE ACCOUNT.-(a) There is hereby established in the Treasury of the United States an account, to be known as the rural telephone account, consisting of:
“(1) all notes, bonds, obligations, and property delivered or assigned to the Administrator pursuant to loans heretofore or hereafter made under section 201 of this Act, including notes, bonds, obligations, and property held
in trust by him on behalf of the Secretary of the Treasury, as of the effective date of this title, which shall be transferred to and be assets of the rural telephone account;
"72) undisbursed balances of telephone loans made under section 201, which, as of the effective date of this title, shall be transferred to and be assets of the rural telephone account;
“(3) all collections of principal and interest received on and after July 1, 1968, on notes, bonds, judgments, or other obligations made or held under title II of this Act, which shall be paid into and be assets of the rural telephone account;
"(4) all appropriations for telephone loans made under the authority of section 3 of this Act and funds obtained in accordance therewith and the unexpended balances of any funds available on the effective date of this title for telephone loans under section 201 of this Act, including any funds made available for telephone loans under the item 'Rural Electrification Administration,' in the Department of Agricuture Appropriation Acts current on the date of enactment of this title, and said appropriations, balances, and funds shall be assets of the rural telephone account; and
“(5) shares of the capital stock of the Rural Telephone Bank acquired by investment of the rural telephone account pursuant to section 302(b) (3) of this title, and moneys received from said bank upon retirement of said shares of stock in accordance with the provisions of title IV of this Act, which
said shares and moneys shall be assets of the rural telephone account. "SEC. 302. LIABILITIES AND USES OF ACCOUNT.—(a) The notes of the Administrator issued to the Secretary of the Treasury to obtain funds for loans under section 201 of this Act, and all other liabilities against the appropriations or assets in the rural telephone account in connection with telephone loan operations shall be liabilities of the rural telephone account, and all other obligations against such appropriations or assets arising out of telephone loan operations shall be obligations of the rural telephone account.
"(b) The assets of the rural telephone account shall be available for the following purposes :
“(1) loans under section 201 of this Act and for advances in connection therewith, except that no such loans shall be made in any year in excess of the amounts previously authorized therefor in appropriation Acts for such year or available pursuant to section 3 of this Act; the amounts so authorized for loans and advances shall remain available until expended ;
“(2) payment of interest as it accrues on loans to the Administrator from the Secretary of the Treasury for telephone purposes pursuant to section 3(a) of this Act;
‘(3) investment in the capital stock of the Rural Telephone Bank in accordance with section 406(a) of this Act: Provided, That such investment shall be deemed paid in capital of the said bank notwithstanding that funds representing the proceeds from the purchase of such stock shall remain in the rural telephone account until required for actual disbursement in cash by the said bank; and
“(4) payment of principal when due on loans to the Administrator from the Secretary of the Treasury for telephone purposes pursuant to section
3(a) of this Act. "SEC. 303. DEPOSIT OF ACCOUNT MONEYS.—Moneys in the rural telephone account shall remain on deposit in the Treasury of the United States until disbursed.
"SEC. 401. ESTABLISHMENT, GENERAL PURPOSES, AND STATUS OF THE TELEPHONE BANK.-(a) There is hereby established a body corporate to be known as the Rural Telephone Bank (hereinafter called the telephone bank).
“(b) The general purposes of the telephone bank shall be to obtain an adequate supply of supplemental funds to the extent feasible from non-Federal sources, to utilize said funds in the making of loans under section 408 of this title, and to conduct its operations to the extent practicable on a self-sustaining basis.
"(c) The telephone bank shall be deemed to be an instrumentality of the United States, and shall, for the purposes of jurisdiction and venue, be deemed a citizen and resident of the District of Columbia. The telephone bank is authorized to make payments to State, territorial, and local governments in lieu of property taxes upon real property and tangible personal property which was subject to
State, territorial, and local taxation before acquisition by the telephone bank. Such payment may be in the amounts, at the times, and upon such terms as the telephone bank deems appropriate but the telephone bank shall be guided by the policy of making payments not in excess of the taxes which would have been payable upon such property in the condition in which it was acquired.
"SEC. 402. GENERAL POWERS.—To carry out the specific powers herein authorized, the telephone bank shall have power to (a) adopt, alter, and use a corporate seal; (b) sue and be sued in its corporate name; (c) make contracts, leases, and cooperative agreements, or enter into other transactions as may be necessary in the conduct of its business, and on such terms as it may deem appropriate; (d) acquire, in any lawful manner, hold, maintain, use, and dispose of property: Provided, That the telephone bank may only acquire property needed in the con. duct of its banking operations or pledged or mortgaged to secure loans made hereunder or in temporary operation or maintenance thereof: Provided further, That any such pledged or mortgaged property so acquired shall be disposed of as promptly as is consistent with prudent liquidation practices, but in no event later than five years after such acquisition; (e) accept gifts or donations of services, or of property in aid of any of the purposes herein authorized ; (f) appoint such officers, attorneys, agents, and employees, vest them with such powers and duties, fix and pay such compensation to them for their services as the telephone bank may determine; (g) determine the character of and the necessity for its obligations and expenditures, and the manner in which they shall be incurred, allowed, and paid; (h) execute, in accordance with its bylaws, all instruments necessary or appropriate in the exercise of any of its powers; (i) collect or compromise all obligations assigned to or held by it and all legal or equitable rights accruing to it in connection with the payment of such obligations until such time as such obligation may be referred to the Attorney General for suit or collection; and (j) exercise all such other powers as shall be necessary or incidental to carrying out its functions under this title.
"SEC. 403. SPECIAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING TELEPHONE BANK AS AN AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES UNTIL CONVERSION OF OWNERSHIP, CONTROL, AND OPERATION.Until the ownership, control, and operation of the telephone bank is converted as provided in section 410(a) of this title and not thereafter
“(a) the telephone bank shall be an agency of the United States and shall be subject to the supervision and direction of the Secretary of Agriculture (hereinafter called the Secretary): Provided, houever, That the telephone bank shall at no time be entitled to transmission of its mail free of postage, nor shall it have the priority of the United States in the payment of debts out of bankrupt, insolvent, and decedents' estates ;
“(b) in order to perform its responsibilities under this title, the telephone bank may partially or jointly utilize the faciilties and the services of employees of the Rural Electrification Administration or of any other agency of the Department of Agriculture, without cost to the telephone bank and without charge to administrative expenses recoverable by the telephone bank under section 408(b) (3) of this title, but the compensation and expenses of members of the Telephone Bank Board who are not Federal officers or employees, and of officers and employees engaged solely on telephone bank activities, and procurement for the telephone bank, shall be administrative expenses recoverable under said subsection;
"(c) notwithstanding the provisions of the second sentence of subsection (d) of section 303 of the Government Corporation Control Act, as amended (31 U.S.C. 868), all telephone debentures issued by the telephone bank shall be issued at such times, bear interest at such rates, and contain such other terms and conditions as have been or may be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury;
“(d) the telephone bank may without regard to the civil service classification laws appoint and fix the compensation of such officers and employees of the telephone bank as it may deem necessary;
"(e) the telephone bank shall be subject to the provisions of sections 517, 519, and 2679 of title 28, United States Code. “SEC. 404. GOVERNOR.–Subject to the provisions of section 410, the Administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration shall serve as the chief executive officer of the telephone bank (herein called the Governor of the telephone bank). Except as to matters specifically reserved to the Telephone Bank Board in this title, the Governor of the telephone bank shall exercise and perform all functions, powers, and duties of the telephone bank.
“Sec. 405. BOARD OF DIRECTORS.—(a) The management of the telephone bank, within the limitations prescribed by law, shall be vested in a board of directors (herein called the Telephone Bank Board) consisting of thirteen members.
“(b) The Administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration and the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration shall be members of the Telephone Bank Board. Five other members of the Telephone Bank Board shall be designated by the President to serve at his pleasure, three of whom shall be officers or employees of the Department of Agriculture but not officers or employees of the Rural Electrification Administration, and two of whom shall be from the general public and not officers or employees of the Federal Government. The Administrator and other officers and employees of the Department of Agriculture and the Governor of the Farm Credit Administration shall serve as members without additional compensation.
"(c) As soon as practicable after enactment of this title, the President of the United States shall appoint six additional members of the initial Telephone Bank Board to be selected from the directors, managers, and employees of any entities eligible to borrow from the telephone bank and of organizations controlled by such entities, with due regard to fair representation of the rural telephone systems of the Nation. The six members thus appointed shall serve until their successors shall have been duly elected in accordance with subsection (d).
“(d) Within twelve months following the appointment of the six members of the initial Board as provided in subsection (c), the Governor of the telephone bank shall call a meeting of all entities then eligible to borrow from the telephone bank and organizations controlled by such entities for the purpose of electing members of the Telephone Bank Board. Each such entity and organization shall be entitled to notice of and shall have one noncumulative vote at said meeting. Six members of the Telephone Bank Board shall be elected for a two-year term, three from among the directors, managers, and employees of cooperative-type entities eligible to vote and organizations controlled by such entities, and three from among the managers, directors, and employees of commercial-type entities eligible to vote and organizations controlled by such entities. These six members shall be elected by majority vote of the entities and organizations eligible to vote and such entities and organizations may vote by proxy.
“(e) Thereafter, in accordance with the bylaws of the telephone bank, the six members of the Telephone Bank Board shall be elected by holders of class B and class C stock, three from among the directors, managers, and employees of cooperative-type entities and organizations controlled by such entities holding class B or class C stock, and three from among the directors, managers, and employees of commercial-type entities and organizations controlled by such entities holding class B or class C stock. These six members shall be elected by majority vote of the entities and organizations eligible to vote and such entities and organizations may vote by proxy.
“(f) Any Telephone Bank Board member may continue to serve after the expiration of the term for which he is elected until his successor has been elected and has qualified. Telephone Bank Board members designated from the general public, pursuant to subsection (b), or appointed or elected pursuant to subsections (c), (d), and (e), shall receive $100 for each day or part thereof, not to exceed one hundred days per year for the first three years after enactment of this title and not to exceed fifty days per year thereafter, spent in the performance of official duties, and shall be reimbursed for travel and other expenses in such manner and subject to such limitations as the Telephone Bank Board may prescribe.
“(g) The Telephone Bank Board shall prescribe bylaws, not inconsistent with law, regulating the manner in which the telephone bank's business shall be conducted, its directors and officers elected, its stock issued, held, and disposed of. its property transferred, its bylaws amended, and the powers and privileges granted to it by law exercised and enjoyed.
“(h) The Telephone Bank Board shall meet at such times and places as it may fix and determine, but shall hold at least four regularly scheduled meetings a year, and special meetings may be held on call in the manner specified in the bylaws of the telephone bank.
“(i) The Telephone Bank Board shall make an annual report to the Secretary for transmittal to the Congress on the administration of this title IV and any other matters relating to the effectuation of the policies of title IV, including recommendations for legislation.
“SEC. 406. CAPITALIZATION.-(a) The telephone bank's capital shall consist of capital subscribed by the United States, by borrowers from the telephone bank, by corporations and public bodies eligible to become borrowers from the telephone bank, and by organizations controlled by such borrowers, corporations, and public bodies. Beginning with the fiscal year 1970 and for each fiscal year thereafter, the United States shall furnish capital for the purchase of class A stock and there are hereby authorized to be appropriated from net collection proceeds in the rural telephone account created under title III of this Act such amounts, not to exceed $30,000,000 annually, for such purchases until such class A stock shall equal $300,000,000: Provided, That on or before July 1, 1974, the Secretary shall make a report to the President for transmittal to the Congress on the status of capitalization of the telephone bank by the United States with appropriate recommendations. As used in this section, the term 'net collection proceeds' shall be deemed to mean payments from and after July 1, 1968, of principal and interest on loans heretofore or hereafter made under section 201 of this Act, less an amount representing interest payable to the Secretary of the Treasury on loans to the Administrator for telephone purposes pursuant to section 3(a) of this Act.
• (b) The capital stock of the telephone bank shall consist of three classes, class A, class B, and class C, the rights, powers, privileges, and preferences of the separate classes to be as specified, not inconsistent with law, in the bylaws of the telephone bank. Class B and Class C stock shall be voting stock, but no holder of said stock shall be entitled to more than one vote, nor shall class B and class ( stockholders, regardless of their number, which are owned or controlled by the same person, group of persons, firm, association, or corporation, be entitled in any event to more than one vote.
"(c) Class A stock shall be issued only to the Administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration on behalf of the United States in exchange for capital furnished to the telephone bank pursuant to subsection (a), and such class A stock shall be redeemed and retired by the telephone bank as soon as practicable after June 30, 1984, but not to the extent that the Telephone Bank Board determines that such retirement will impair the operations of the telephone bank: Provided, That the minimum amount of class A stock that shall be retired each year after said date and after the amount of class A and class B stock issued totals $400,000,000, shall equal the amouut of class B stock sold by the telephone bank during such year. Class A stock shall be entitled to a return, payable from income, at the rate of 2 per centum per annum on the amounts of said class A stock actually paid into the telephone bank. Such return shall be cumulative and shall be payable annually into miscellaneous receipts of the Treasury.
“(d) Class B stock shall be held only by recipients of loans under section 408 of this Act. Borrowers, receiving loan funds pursuant to section 408 (a) (1) or (2) shall be required to invest in class B stock 5 per centum of the amount of loan funds so provided. No dividends shall be payable on class B stock. All holders of class B stock shall be entitled to patronage refunds in class B stock under terms and conditions to be specified in the bylaws of the telephone bank.
“(e) Class C stock shall be available for purchase and shall be held only by borrowers, or by corporations eligible to borrow under section 408 of this Act, or by organizations controlled by such borrowers and corporations, and shall be entitled to dividends in the manner specified in the bylaws of the telephone bank. Such dividends shall be payable only from income and, until all class A stock is retired, shall not exceed the current average rate payable on its telephone debentures.
“(f) If a firm, association, corporation, or public body is not authorized under the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is organized to acquire stock of the telephone bank, the telephone bank shall, in lieu thereof, permit such organization to pay into a special fund of the telephone bank a sum equivalent to the amount of stock to be purchased. Each reference in this title to capital stock, or to class B, or class C stock, shall include also the special fund equivalents of such stock, and to the extent permitted under the laws of the jurisdiction in which such organization is organized, a holder of special fund equivalents of class B, or class C stock, shall have the same rights and status as a holder of class B or class C stock, respectively. The rights and obligations of the telephone bank in respect of such special fund equivalent shall be identical to its rights and obligations in respect of class B or class C stock, respectively.
“(g) After payment of all operating expenses of the telephone bank, including interest on its telephone debentures, setting aside appropriate funds for reserves for losses, and making payments in lieu of taxes, and returns on class A stock as